When Will We Be Told By West Lancashire We Are To Become Lancashire Combined?

According to the Lancashire Post, Lancashire’s leaders have apparently “come out” in support of a combined authority for the county “in principle”.

The leaders of all 15 local authorities in Lancashire have backed “the principle” of creating a new combined authority in the county. So having checked the WLBC latest news on its website, there is nothing from our illustrious leader about it. The mushroom method is at work. 

“It is the first time that unanimity has been achieved on the divisive issue since councils began discussing the idea four years ago. Lancashire County Council leader Driver told a meeting of his own authority’s cabinet that he and his counterparts reached the agreement earlier this week.

“However, even this tacit approval is still subject to acquiring the consent of each individual council and might yet become embroiled in potentially fractious discussions about the reorganisation of Lancashire’s complex local authority map. The leaders are to seek advice on that subject from the Local Government Association – and possibly, at later stage, from two peers – after Whitehall officials suggested earlier this year that a simplified council structure might be demanded before the government would approve a combined authority and strike a related devolution deal for the county.

“The prospect of such an agreement which could hand Lancashire greater powers over transport, skills and strategic planning, along with extra funding of at least £30m per year for 30 years has proved elusive.

“While neighbouring areas in Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region signed on the dotted line several years ago, Lancashire got bogged down in internal debate about whether it wanted an elected mayor, a post usually required as part of a combined authority.

“At any given time, one or more district authorities have left the table over both that issue and disquiet about whether they would be denied a veto under the new arrangements. The county council cabinet has now voted to back the principle of a combined authority and the elected mayor to go with it.

“Driver said that he did not think that the county would be given “much choice” about whether to rethink its local authority set-up, something which would continue to exist alongside any new combined authority and also determine its membership.

“The messages that we’re getting are that the government is seeing…a combined authority and a local government review as going hand in glove, because they see the need to simplify the local government structure” the Conservative leader said, adding that a white paper on the issue was expected in the autumn.

“Labour opposition group leader Azhar Ali said that he backed both the principle of an elected mayor and some council reorganisation to avoid the risk of multiple tiers of local government “frustrating decision-making”. It’s now time for this council to be leading the way – we’ve got to stop dithering as we have been for the last couple of years. I’ve sent the same message to district colleagues to say we’ve got to wake up and smell the coffee – because if we don’t, we’re going to fall further behind,” County Cllr Ali said, praising the county’s “incredible talent”.

Perhaps the “incredible talent” will be paid incredible salaries from tax-payers, like the “ astronomical number of London City Hall bosses enjoying six-figure salaries at taxpayers’ expense. Dubbed the City Hall Rich List the Taxpayers Alliance research team revealed that 654 employees of the Greater London Authority and its various offshoots received pay packets in excess of £100,000 in 2018-19.

Transport for London (TfL) had 518 staff taking home wages of over £100,000. Of these, 114 were paid more than £150,000. TfL boss Michael Brown topped the rich list enjoying a taxpayer funded wage slip to the tune of £508,301! This comes just weeks after TfL received a £1.6 billion bailout from the taxpayer, saying emergency funding was required to prevent it going bust.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, reaped in more than £150,000 in salary, bonuses and benefits. But it doesn’t end there. Incredibly, 16 of his staff got more than £100,000. Meanwhile, Londoners have seen their average council tax precept increase by 9 per cent in the last four years.

 

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